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Brief Published: 4 Nov 2014

HaptoMime: Touchable Hologram

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a holographic display that makes a touchscreen out of thin air.

A liquid-crystal display (LCD) screen is reflected by an aerial imaging plate (AIP) – which acts like a two-way mirror – positioned at a 45-degree angle above the screen. This makes it appear as a vertical hovering interface to the user.

To complete the illusion, sensors detect the location of the user's fingers and focus beams of ultrasound on them to make it feel as though they are touching a physical display.

The result is a working haptic touchscreen that can be used with wet or dirty hands and in other unfavourable conditions. The researchers hope the development might help limit the spread of disease through public interfaces such as ATMs.

For more on interfaces that push the boundaries of human-machine interactions, see MisTable: Reach-Through Interfaces and Thaw: Computer-Smartphone Interactions.